The Philosophy of Movement

Before I start this post,…..think of movement.

OK, now jot down 3 words that just may have passed through your mind. (I’d like you to post those three words in the comment section below along with any reactions you have after reading this post)

Movement is something that is uniquely essential to our survival as a species. It is not a universal trait shared by all organisms in the natural world. Exposure to a wide range of selection pressures has yielded much diversity in the adaptive traits expressed throughout the animal kingdom. In efforts to ensure survival, some species placed more evolutionary stock in defense mechanisms while others opted for offense. The turtle grew a shell while the eagle grew talons. We as hominids decided that we would gain our survival advantage through an increased range of motion of as many of our bony joints as possible.

English: A silhouette of human evolution creat...

English: A silhouette of human evolution created in Adobe Illustrator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether they knew it or not, those first primates who decided to stand up straight to increase their reach and utility of the upper extremities adopted a radical change in philosophy. They decided to invest in their potential for greater control over their environment through mastery of movement. While other species certainly could run faster, jump farther and even soar through the air (specialization), our primate ancestors continued their climb to the top of the food chain by building tools, shelters, traps and weapons.

Our ability to incorporate complex motor tasks in to our daily lives precipitated an increase in brain size. Not only did we need more motor neurons to allow for all the variation in movement patterns, but we needed the ability to teach and learn these new movements. Once the elders discovered how to rub sticks together to get fire, they had to communicate to the others how to replicate the process.

Fire brought on yet another leap in our development because it allowed us to consume more easily digestible  animal proteins rather than live primarily on plants. This allowed for the shrinkage of our digestive systems and increase in brain matter.

So what is the point of this brief history of our human evolution?

The point is to explore the philosophical “reasoning” for our adapted culture of movement that we humans have inherited. We have built upon the foundational advantages that movement has afforded us. We’ve gone from building simple tools to expression of our innermost beings through dance and song. We socialize our young through sport and activity. We protect our interests through mobilization of a standing military force. We catalyze social movements through marches and demonstrations. Movement is far more than something you should do because it will please your doctor.

For the next couple months, I will explore the various philosophical inquiries that have been made in to the realm of human movement.

Now, please share the three words that came to mind initially when you read the word, “movement”. Feel free to include any additional thoughts or reactions you have to this post.

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19 thoughts on “The Philosophy of Movement

  1. Heat, life and The “How to start a movement” Ted Talk.

    Anyway a nice philosphical snack, thank you! This is also a colorfoul demonstration of the meaning of internet being asystem making the movement of information work on a new scale. The future will be nice to follow. The agile movement of information will shape us just us the agile movement of our bodies did. But now the new step hjas arrived not in milleniums but years – and is totally dependant on an system external toour own body and mind.

    • You are exactly right in your connection to the movement of information. It is a largely external endeavor and I only hope we pause every once in a while to digest and internalize that which we expose ourselves to on the internet (assuming it’s all or mostly positive). I feel that we’ve become an overly cerebral people who have come to neglect some of the foundational aspects to life in the area of mind, body and spirit. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Mind, motion, and philosophy. The relationship between “consciousness”, movement of our bodies, and motion in the physical world as a whole is both perplexing and fascinating to think about and explore.

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